Thompson Chain of Lakes
MM = Highway Mileage Marker Signs
Note: It has been close to fifteen years since I did my research on the Thompson Chain of Lakes so I am sure the following article needs to be updated. Since I am now an aficionado of bass fishing with a fly rod, I look forward to updating this information.
MM 69 to MM 86: The Thompson Chain of Lakes, stretching along Highway 2 for 17 miles between Libby and Kalispell, quite possibly offers more fishing variety than any other stretch of highway in Montana. Nineteen lakes ranging in size from three acres to 1,300 acres, the chain boosts both warm-water game fish and cold-water trout. The area offers 60 campsites. Perch, pumpkinseeds, largemouth bass and northern pike cruise through Crystal, Horseshoe, Lavon, Little Loon, Little McGregor, Loon, Lower Thompson, Middle Thompson and Upper Thompson Lakes.
Rainbows, eastern brook and cutthroats can be located together or isolated in Banana, Bootjack, Cad, Cibid, Leon, Lilly Pad, Little Loon, Little McGregor, Loon, Lower Thompson, Middle Thompson, Myron, Rainbow, Topless and Upper Thompson Lakes. Compressed into a 17-mile stretch, sprinkle in kokanee salmon and browns and anglers have enough variety and challenges to last a lifetime. Best of all, some of the lakes hold huge lake trout in the 10- to 20-pound range; however, with the illegal introduction of pike to some of the lakes, trout and bass numbers have declined in some of the lakes.
What follows is a listing of the lakes starting with Loon Lake and progressing towards McGregor Lake, which is 28 miles from Kalispell. Camping is allowed only in the 60 designated campsites spread throughout the chain of lakes.
MM 70: Loon Lake 238 acres, 114 feet maximum depth. Contains yellow perch, rainbow, largemouth bass, Eastern brook trout. Day use only. Concrete boat launch. Little Loon Lake South of Loon Lake. 11.6 acres, 38 feet maximum depth. Contains cutthroat, largemouth bass, and small mouth bass. Dirt ramp. Leon Lake Southwesterly tip of Loon Lake. 22 acres, 22 feet maximum depth. Contains yellow perch, cutthroats. Dirt ramp. Horseshoe Lake 159 acres, 133 feet maximum depth. Contains pumpkinseed, largemouth bass, whitefish. Concrete boat ramp. Cibid Lake 11 acres, 60 feet maximum depth. Contains rainbows. Day use only. Banana Lake Across the highway from Horseshoe Lake. Contains rainbows and cutthroats. Day use only. Topless Lake Clustered along with Lilly Pad Lake, Bootjack Lake and Lavon Lake between Horseshoe Lake and Crystal Lake, Topless Lake is 9.2 acres and holds cutthroat. Lilly Pad Lake is a three-acre lake holding brook trout and largemouth bass. Bootjack Lake is a 12-acre lake holding cutthroats and rainbows. The lake is mostly on private land, but there is public access if you can find it. Lavon Lake 17 acres, 91 feet. Contains yellow perch, kokanee salmon, rainbow, largemouth bass. Day use only. Crystal Lake 178 acres, 154 feet. Contains yellow perch, kokanee salmon, rainbow, largemouth bass. Dirt ramp.
MM 74: Rainbow Lake: A small lake nestled up against Upper Thompson Lake at the northern end, Rainbow Lake is 20 acres and has no public access. Upper Thompson 375 acres, 50 feet. Contains yellow perch, northern pike, largemouth bass, pumpkinseeds, rainbows, small mouth bass. Concrete boat ramp.
MM 77: Middle Thompson Lake Contains yellow perch, northern pike, largemouth bass, pumpkinseeds, rainbows and small mouth bass. Logan State Park Campground: Logan has 39 campsites and trailer spaces up to 40 feet. Gravel ramp. Lower Thompson Lake Contains yellow perch, rainbow, largemouth bass, pumpkinseeds, kokanee salmon, northern pike, brown trout. Concrete boat launch. Little McGregor Lake North side of the highway. 40 acres. Contains brook trout, cutthroat, yellow perch, large mouth bass. Dirt ramp.
MM 85: McGregor Lake 1,328 acres. Contains lake trout, rainbow, yellow perch, whitefish. McGregor Lake Campground has 15 campsites accommodating trailer space up to 32 feet. Dirt ramp.
MM 100.7: Little Bitterroot Lake Almost three miles long and a half-mile wide, the lake is a recreational lake with summer homes and boating activities. Nonetheless, the lake fishes well for perch, kokanee salmon and nice-size rainbows.
MM 105: Ashley Lake Another large recreation lake, Ashley Lake offers good fishing for kokanee salmon and nice-sized rainbows.
MM 110: Smith Lake A marshy, shallow 300 acre lake, Smith Lake has one state access site to launch a boat. The lake fishes well for perch and bass.